Developing Policy Solutions for a More Active Nation
Integrating Economic and Public Health Perspectives
Published In: Preventive Medicine, v. 49, no. 4, Oct. 2009, p. 306-308
Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2008
Both economic and public health/medical perspectives play an important role in the policy process but often approach policy questions in an incompatible way. Harnessing any synergy requires an understanding of the other perspective. The authors begin by comparing and contrasting the economic and public health perspectives, including introducing relevant economic concepts. They next identify economic considerations for the development of environmental incentives that promote physical activity. The authors then assess features of the political environment which could impact the success of policy alternatives aimed at increasing physical activity. The authors conclude with several policy levers that may promote active living. Throughout the manuscript, they use the term economics to refer to classical economics and utility maximization rather than behavioral economics. In addition, the authors focus mostly on normative economics (which offers prescriptions for what should be done) rather than positive economics (which offers predictions of economic outcomes conditional on various hypothetical scenarios).